Together for a new chapter of HK's prosperity and good governance
Updated 14:56, 01-Jul-2022
Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen

Editor's note: Decision Makers is a global platform for decision makers to share their insights on events shaping today's world. Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen is president of the Legislative Council of Hong Kong. The article reflects the author's opinions and not necessarily the views of CGTN.

When the governing team of the sixth-term government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) under the leadership of new Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu is inaugurated on July 1, 2022, it marks another milestone for Hong Kong as we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the HKSAR.  

At this critical juncture of starting a new chapter towards good governance that brings stability, prosperity and opportunity to Hong Kong, it is also the time for us to reflect on the experience of implementing "One Country, Two Systems" in the past quarter century.

Tiding over challenges with the strengths of 'One Country, Two Systems'

Since the central government resumed the exercise of sovereignty over Hong Kong on July 1, 1997, our city has retained its renowned international status and competitive edge with our robust legal and financial systems. According to the International Institute for Management Development, Hong Kong is the world's fifth most competitive place. 

The completion of cross-border infrastructural projects, such as the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge and the Hong Kong section of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link, have enhanced our unique advantages as the gateway to the mainland. The rights and freedoms long enjoyed by the vast majority of law-abiding citizens are intact and guaranteed under the Basic Law. All these would have been impossible without the steadfast and successful implementation of "One Country, Two Systems."

In the address at the celebration of the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the HKSAR in 2017, President Xi Jinping pointed out that as a pioneering initiative, the implementation of "One Country, Two Systems" was an evolving process during which new scenarios and issues would arise. The years since the establishment of the HKSAR have not all been plain sailing, yet Hong Kong has always been privileged to have the sturdy support from the country and the central government, enabling us to overcome a number of challenges.

In the face of social unrest and violence in 2019, the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) acted decisively to pass the Law of the People's Republic of China on Safeguarding National Security in the HKSAR on June 30, 2020, which quickly restored governance and social stability in Hong Kong from the state of chaos. 

To plug the loopholes in the former electoral system and ensure faithful implementation of the principle of "patriots administering Hong Kong," the NPC passed the decision on improving the electoral system of the HKSAR on March 11, 2021, which subsequently ensured the smooth conduct of the Election Committee (EC) subsector ordinary elections, the Legislative Council (LegCo) general election and the chief executive election respectively.  

Over the past two years, like other places in the world, Hong Kong has been hit hard by the global public health crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic, especially the fifth-wave epidemic at the beginning of this year. While the epidemic has as well plagued the Chinese mainland, the central government, as well as other mainland provinces, spared no effort in sending experts and medical support teams to Hong Kong. They assisted us in establishing community treatment and isolation facilities within a short period of time, also collaborated with the medical professionals of the Hospital Authority in providing treatment for the COVID-19 patients. Their support has significantly enhanced Hong Kong's anti-epidemic work on reducing the numbers of severe cases and deaths, and also relieved the pressure on our public hospitals at the height of epidemic.  

Time and again, the staunch and resolute support from the central government and mainland compatriots - together with remarkable resilience and unbeatable spirit of the people of Hong Kong - have turned crises into opportunities. Having gone through unprecedented challenges in recent years, it is now incumbent on us to leverage the advantages of "One Country, Two Systems" and capitalize on our unique strengths to contribute to the country as well as maintaining the long-term stability and prosperity of Hong Kong.

Starting a new chapter together towards prosperity and good governance

With the overwhelming support from the EC members, John Lee was elected as the sixth-term chief executive of the HKSAR on May 8, 2022. During a meeting in Beijing last month, President Xi commended Lee for his unwavering patriotism and his contributions to safeguard national security. President Xi also said that Hong Kong has returned from chaos to stability and is now at a critical moment of moving towards prosperity and he believed our city would herald a new atmosphere and write a new chapter for development.

John Lee waves to people at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center in Hong Kong, south China, May 8, 2022. /Xinhua

John Lee waves to people at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center in Hong Kong, south China, May 8, 2022. /Xinhua

In Lee's election manifesto outlining the vision to build a more liveable, open, vibrant and united city, he pledged to improve Hong Kong's overall competitiveness, solidify our position as a leading international city and proactively facilitate Hong Kong's integration into national development. Lee also highlighted the importance of building an effective government, which adopts a result-oriented approach.  

As president of the LegCo, I am particularly pleased to learn that Lee has prioritized the improvement of governing effectiveness by working in concert with LegCo and strengthening the communication and coordination between government officials and LegCo members. 

Under the constitutional order as enshrined in the Basic Law, the LegCo has a unique role to monitor the work of the Hong Kong local government and complement with the administration through deliberation of legislative and public expenditure proposals put forward by the government.

With a new composition and expanded membership size of 90 members under the improved electoral system, the seventh LegCo has returned to the long-awaited rationality and members could conduct LegCo business efficiently. The most recent example is the deliberation and approval of relevant legislative and funding proposals for the reorganization of the government's structure. 

The restructuring proposal, in essence, creating three deputy secretaries of department and two new bureau heads, aims to enhance the effectiveness of governance to better meet social expectations and complement the policy focuses of the new-term government. 

While LegCo members have carefully deliberated and scrutinized the restructuring proposal in the council and various committee meetings, the timely approval of the proposal has facilitated a smooth transition of the governments and the formation of the new governing team which was appointed by the central government on June 19, 2022.

It is worth to note that, of the 26 principal officials of the sixth-term HKSAR government being appointed, five of them had been LegCo members. In addition, eight incumbent LegCo members were invited to join the Executive Council (ExCo), comprising half of the membership of the non-official members of the new-term ExCo. It is also the first time for an incumbent LegCo member to be invited as the convener of the non-official members of the ExCo. 

With the experience in the legislature and network in the community, they could better serve as a bridge between the government and the general public. The arrangements do not only strengthen the ties between the executive and legislative branches for good governance, it will also help the government to garner views in the early stage of policy formulation and canvass support from various political parties in the LegCo.

As Hong Kong is stepping out from the impact of the fifth-wave epidemic, it is imperative to renew our efforts in bringing continuous impetus to Hong Kong's economy and enhancing our role in the country's dual-circulation economic strategy. The new-term HKSAR government must seize the opportunities arising from the national 14th Five-Year Plan, the Belt and Road Initiative and the rapid development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area. 

While Lee's governing team will lead with strategic thinking and broad vision in formulating policies that can leverage Hong Kong's advantages and meet the country's needs, LegCo members also have a pivotal role in providing useful advice with their professional knowledge and practical experience in various fields.   

Yet we must not overlook the immense difficulties encountered by the general public, in particular the grassroots and local businesses, who were adversely affected by the COVID-19 epidemic. In the course of development, Hong Kong society has been facing a range of deep-seated social and economic problems, including housing, healthcare; welfare for the elderly and the underprivileged, upward mobility for the youths and the need for economic diversification. Lee and his governing team must waste no time to resolve these pressing issues to expedite economic recovery and improve people's livelihood. 

The new-term government also needs to rally and unite all sectors of the society by reaching out to the public and solicit support for its policies tactfully. LegCo members are charged with the responsibility of speaking on behalf of their constituencies and conveying people's concerns to the government. With a positive and interactive executive-legislative relationship, I believe the government would humbly listen to different voices and serve the public with practical actions.

Hong Kong is entering a new era towards prosperity and governance, but we cannot afford to be complacent. The new-term government under the leadership of John Lee, the LegCo members elected under the improved electoral system and various sectors in the community must rise to the challenges and join hands to strive for the best for Hong Kong with sustained perseverance. As long as we stay true to the original aspiration of "One Country, Two Systems" and utilize its institutional strengths, I am fully confident that our home city will further prosper and continue to shine.

(If you want to contribute and have specific expertise, please contact us at Follow @thouse_opinions on Twitter to discover the latest commentaries in the CGTN Opinion Section.)

Search Trends